Next Level Escape: The Strange Disappearance of Station Eleven | Review | An online sci-fi adventure set aboard a mysteriously empty space station, with a noir flavour. Investigate what happened to the crew, and don’t get yourself spaced! Noir-esque narration, humour and story come together in a fun romp through a small station on the outskirts of space. With a shared inventory system, a catch-up option and other fun ways to interact with your friends, this game is designed to make you feel like you’re all working together… even while apart.
Completion Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (ish!)
Date Played: November 2021
Party Size: 5
We sat around on a chilly November night to try out Next Level Escape’s new game: The Strange Disappearance on Station Eleven. This game is all about investigating what happened to the crew members – whether it was a classic case of a rouge AI, or if something more…gassy…was afoot.
With five of us playing, including us, Nick and Mairi, we knew it would be a relatively ‘busy’ escape, with people going off much like you would in an in-person escape, looking at different puzzles at different times.
So, what did we think?
Luckily, the interface set up by Next Level Escape fits really well with multiple users! It was actually quite a nice break from Telescape, and would suit those looking for something a bit more complex. That said, we did experience a few technical difficulties at the beginning which kicked one player out meaning they had to play along via a screen-share for the remainder of the game.
The graphics were excellent and throughout the game it felt like we were on board a spaceship straight out of a sci-fi movie – think The Expanse or Star Trek vibes. The physical space we were exploring felt huge too, with lots of different sections to explore and lots of clickable objects.
Most importantly, we really appreciated the humour interspersed throughout the gameplay too – there was one stand out moment which was a throwback to early 2000s trolling that Al (Alice, not the AI – we quickly realised the confusion we could have with Al and AI in the same space!!) fell victim to which gave us some laughs.
One of the biggest stand out features was a ‘Catch Up’ button, meaning team members who are slightly behind, or just cannot click with that ‘one puzzle’, can skip ahead to join the rest of their crew. This stops everyone from having to put in codes multiple times, which can be a bit of a pain.
We loved this – more of this please!
Some dramatic music + a voiceover (+ beans) = a good story!
The storyline in this game was great. There was a fun introductory video to get everyone up to speed, along with a handy tutorial at the start before you officially ‘board the spaceship’. From here, the game progressed well, with new spaces becoming available each time you solved a new puzzles, and more of the story being revealed as we made our way through the game.
We always like it when the puzzles link to the narrative, and this game really delivered on this front!
The game markets itself towards more seasoned puzzlers and we can see why. Often we think of puzzles in layers of complexity (the more layers of information needed to solve a puzzle, the more complex it is)! We found these puzzles pretty challenging, often requiring multiple people looking at different things to put together to find a solution, so communication literally was the key on many occasions. However, these were all enjoyable (and most importantly – logical!). There were no puzzles where we thought ‘how on earth is that the answer!’. Users need to make sure they have a keen eye for detail though, and be ready for a large amount to solve!
There was one particular series of puzzles that really stood out to us. It involved the use of shapes, and it was something we had never seen before – making for an extremely satisfying A-HA moment when we figured out what was going on.
We did have to use one hint, but this meant we got to see the fun hint package the game offered, which was on theme with the humour of the rest of the game. It was also really easy to navigate, which is nice as it prevents you from accidentally spoiling something you haven’t got to yet!
Friend or foe? (I’m going to poke it anyway)
The climax of the game was brilliant. It involved a lot of figurative ‘running around’ and everyone working in a team together. Once we had stopped poking the AI, we realised it had a lot more to offer us, including a hilarious ending and more mentions of baked beans than we had expected… (would you eat a baked bean cake?! I think even we would draw the line here…)
We would definitely recommend this game to puzzle enthusiasts looking for a fun game that is a bit different but still challenges you with its puzzles. You won’t regret it! Get together with 2-6 players and see if you can figure out what happened to Station 11…